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Hyundai scores top spots in quality survey

The automaker bests rivals in four of 19 vehicle categories. Industrywide, buyers are more satisfied.

June 05, 2007|From the Associated Press

When it comes to car quality, think Korean.

Hyundai Motor Co. leads in four categories with five models in the annual vehicle quality study released Monday by Strategic Vision Inc., a San Diego-based market research company and consultant to automakers.

Hyundai's rise in the rankings is only the latest sign of the improved overall quality and declining number of defects in today's cars and trucks, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"They're coming together to a point where the differences are almost meaningless," Cole said.

He said that meant buyers would pay more attention to dealer service, new technology, fashion features, price and fuel economy.

Once known best as the maker of cheap, entry-level cars with nagging manufacturing flaws, the South Korean automaker outperformed its Japanese, European and U.S. rivals in this year's survey, based on interviews with 27,780 people who bought 2007 models from September to November.

Last year, Hyundai had no winners. And highly regarded Toyota Motor Corp., despite improving its overall quality, went from four leaders last year to one this year.

"Even though Hyundai is often overlooked by the U.S. customer, Hyundai's success in 2007 is not surprising given its current products and ... leadership that is looking to the near and distant future with new designs from styling to powertrain," said Darrel Edwards, Strategic Vision's chief executive.

Hyundai's Azera led among large cars, and its Santa Fe led among small sport utility vehicles. The survey covered 19 product segments.

The Hyundai Entourage tied for best minivan with the Quest by Nissan Motor Co. and the Sedona by Hyundai affiliate Kia Motors Corp. The Kia Sorento was the top mid-size SUV.

Strategic Vision asks buyers to rate all aspects of their new vehicles, including the purchase, ownership and driving experience.

What's new this year is not who's first or second, but rather how satisfied buyers are in general, said company President Alexander Edwards. Based on a 1,000-point scale, the average new vehicle was rated 864, up from 861 in 2006 and 831 in 1998.

Overall, Volkswagen had the highest corporate average, followed by Honda Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Toyota and Hyundai. Among brand names, BMW led, followed by Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Mini and Jaguar.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Winners

A selection of top-ranked vehicles from Strategic Vision's Total Quality Index for 2007.

Small car: Honda Civic

Medium car: (tie) Saturn Aura, Nissan Maxima

Large car: Hyundai Azera

Luxury car: Mercedes S-Class

Convertible under $30,000: Mini Cooper Convertible

Convertible over $30,000: Chevrolet Corvette

Minivan: (tie) Kia Sedona, Hyundai Entourage, Nissan Quest

Small sport utility vehicle: Hyundai Santa Fe

Medium SUV: Kia Sorento

Large SUV: Ford Expedition EL

Luxury SUV: Mercedes ML

Medium crossover: Dodge Magnum

Standard pickup: Honda Ridgeline

Large pickup: (tie) Nissan Titan, Ford F-150

Heavy-duty pickup: Ford F-250/F-350

Overall brand: BMW

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Source: The Associated Press

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